The World according to Instagram – Sew Photo Hop Reflections

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I wrote about how I had participated in the SewPhotoHop challenge. I enjoyed it and was rather sad when it finished.

Here are some thoughts that occurred to me.

  • Instagram (IG) is yet another aspect of “social media” we can embrace or ignore. If you haven’t seen it, it involves posting square photographs under your name. You can write quite a few words about it, but the picture is the main event. The squareness of the image, and the artiness of the medium, tend to mean that there is emphasis on how something looks, rather than the story. There seems to an astonishing quantity of photographs of food, babies, pets, pecs and holidays.
  • But there are also millions of pictures about sewing
  • It is a bit like Facebook, in that there is a feed, which shows you what those you are following have posted since you last looked. You can follow just about anyone, although some people are private. In this sense it is more like Twitter than Facebook – it is a public site.
  • Twitter is known as a “micro-blogging” platform. You only have 140 characters to say something, although you can reference articles or blog posts, for example. I am on Twitter as my professional persona, and you can tweet photographs.  But I think increasingly IG is being used for micro-blogging – just one image, and a little explanation is more than enough for many people who currently have blogs. One of the IG feeds I like the best for the writing and the interesting take of the writer is Sandra Bryans, who has now started blogging at Sewanista.
  • Lots of seasoned bloggers use IG however – slipping out pictures (teasers) before they are ready to blog, or sometimes to drive traffic to their blog. Both Carolyns, Lara, Karen, Lizzy, Rachel, Tilly and more.
    House of Pinheiro
    (Handmade) Jane and Rachel (Pinheiro)
  • The thing I liked the best about the images were seeing everyone’s “secret corner of shame” (we all have one, right?) and “worst part of sewing”. Both of these categories were very revealing and refreshing in the perfect world where we all feel like we are on show and being judged all the time.
  • People are  very generous on IG, but generally “liking” only takes nano seconds. Within a few days I was getting 50 likes – a lot more than with the blog. But it is very easy to be seduced into liking in order to be liked. I tried to just like things that I really liked, and to comment too. Commenting is much rarer and often of the “awesome” variety, which is a bit predictable.
  • As the format is so visual language is not a barrier. This is one of the ace things about IG. I am following people in Russia, Austria, Brazil, Japan and France. Many kindly write in English as well as their own language. But even where they don’t, it doesn’t matter much!
  • I followed lots of people during the month. Really anyone who “liked” or commented on my pictures. I also used the sewphotohop hash tag to identify others in the challenge. This allowed me to discover lots and lots of interesting people. Although there are many “sewing beginners” (90% of users are under 35) on IG there are all sorts of experienced and skilled craftswomen – patchworkers, knitters, weavers, dyers, embroiderers. Such a feast of skill and achievement. Over time I will develop my feed so that it has the highest quality work or the most interesting insight. And then I will try to live up to that myself.
  • More than one picture a day is overwhelming for the viewer. And limiting it to one makes you edit your thoughts which is good.
  • You can put up a 15 second video clip.

And here are a few facts.

Instagram was launched in 2010 as an App. It was bought by Facebook in  2012, when it had 100m users, for about $1bn (US). It has since grown by 23%, while Facebook has only grown by 3%. The most popular Instagram accounts are produced by “celebrities” who may or may not take their own pictures. The other thing, related to this, is that people always show their “best” side, or the best side of their life. They show what came for pudding at the swankiest restaurants; a reheated supermarket meal wouldn’t be that “amazing”. Ordinary people now feel they have to a) record the minutiae of their lives b) always look good. This tends to lead to great boredom in the watcher. Of course it is always a matter of degree.

What I could have put on Instagram today. But didn’t.

I took in a skirt for Esme by taking out the zip, and removing around an inch from each side, a technique recommended by Mrs Mole. The chiffon blouse is coming to a conclusion. Bunny had suggested a very fine needle and a fine machine embroidery thread. I was able to find neither, so just got on with it. As you may be able to see I have trapped some basting thread inside the button stand. I made a pair of 1970s trousers for me (a couple of weeks ago), in the same fabric as Esme’s skirt. The very high waist band was uncomfortable and also made the trousers look horrible. So I cut it off and made a facing instead. And finally I started to prepare to make an embroidered blouse. I will be away for work next week and fancied doing a bit of embroidery. So I started off with that. I got very frustrated because I thought I had lost the embroidery pattern for the right sleeve. But, after eating a Ready Meal for dinner, I found it in the bin. I also sewed on a bunch of name tapes for my grandson who starts school on Monday (a task I really thought I was done with).  Real life is not as glamorous as the World of Instagram. IRL we all just try to get by.


16 Responses

  1. Mary

    Before I joined IG I would joke to people that there was no way anyone could possibly be interested in photos of my daily life: Here’s me putting in another load of washing, here’s me tidying after dinner, and on and on. But then I started finding images other people put up that I was interested in looking at and realized I might enjoy sharing my own. And I loved the SewPhotoHop too. I did a similar thing through a designer I like and had great fun. I call it ‘participatory posting’. And I can look at sewing images for hours!

  2. Vivienne

    You could be in Sales! Haven’t tried IG because it is just another thing to check into and it all takes time but now that I’ve read your views will have a look. As I get older I worry about the effects of all this on my declining memory. Have you ever got exited about something, gone to Amazon to order the book and been told you already have it??? Social media doesn’t encourage deep thought eh?

    And congratulations on the buttonhole! Mine didn’t look like that… I look forward to seeing the finished blouse.

    • Cherry

      Ha ha! No but when tidying my sewing/guest/everything else room I found a second copy of a skirt pattern which I still haven’t made………Really informative post about IG and I relate very much to last para.

    • fabrickated

      I have done sales Vivienne. I actually think most jobs are about selling something to someone, even if it is only yourself. And even with children we are trying to sell tidy bedrooms, the virtues of broccoli or the importance of road safety.

  3. Stephanie

    This is very interesting, K. I don’t have a phone (!), but in principle I like the fact that one can connect with people from different countries and overcome the language barrier. That’s something I find with Ravelry as well. Some of the knitters I find to be most skilled are in eastern Europe and Japan, for example, and so it’s interesting to see their work even if I can’t understand their posts. Searching by pattern permits this sharing easily.

  4. Joyce Latham

    Great post Kate, and very informative. I didn’t really know what IG was really all about, and as I don’t have a blog ( I feel it would take up too much of my time )…. I enjoyed connecting with people interested in my sewing progress. I do like the speed of it, but I also enjoy reading blogs and I have learnt so much from them! I like showing photographs. I use flickr and email, and messaging for that to my friends and family. At one point I was very involved with flickr (for years) and I made some great friends there, and learnt lots too, but eventually it became a chore to respond to all the comments and view everyone’s stream. I have weened myself off to the point where my iPad is more like a great book I can pick up and read about what I’m interested in. I totally agree that the pictures are not our real lives ! And there is pressure to clean up, look your best.. Not always a bad thing eh? Ha ha. I love photographs and I like to record my days in this way. I have a large digital picture frame and I really enjoy the slideshows of my grandchildren and other photographs I have taken. I will continue on with instragram for a bit longer, but perhaps one day I’ll write a blog too. It most certainly has been fun following you! ☺️

  5. Bunny

    Thanks for the great explanation. I have been debating for some time now if I want another dish of social media on my table. I am still up in the air on this one but your comments have been really enlightening. It seems I should give it a try before I make a final decision. Just so much time in a day, you know!

    Your last paragraph is the best. I love pics and words about real sewing, not the glossed over version many try to present to the world. It’s greatly appreciated, Kate, and thanks for that little window into your real sewing world.

    • fabrickated

      Bunny – it maybe worth a try – your sewing is sensational and it would nice to be able to enjoy it on IG. But you are so right – there are only so many hours in the day. I may have to scale things down at some point, but currently enjoy multi-tasking.

  6. Amanda

    I really loved participating in the #sewphotohop challenge – it literally DID challenge me to come up with a new creative image each day, and to connect with the community. I haven’t had a lot of time lately to blog and IG is a fabulous way to stay connected with minimal time investments ^_^

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